If you received an email this week from your angry uncle who watches Fox News all day, outraged by reports that “Obamacare” is causing layoffs at the Cleveland Clinic, let him know he can relax.
On November 25, The Daily Caller published an article titled, “Top U.S. hospital laying off staff due to Obamacare.” On Fox Business’ Markets Now, host Connell McShane reported on the “massive layoffs.” America’s Newsroom host Bill Hemmer claimed that the Cleveland Clinic was going to “shed workers.” Later, during the America’s News HQ, Fox reporter Chris Stirewalt claimed that the layoffs “rocked the community there in northeastern Ohio.”But there’s one problem: the Cleveland Clinic is not laying off any employees.
Imagine that. After conservative media ran with this, Media Matters talked to Eileen Sheil, the Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, who said, “There have been several mis-reports and they keep mentioning that we’re laying off 3,000 employees. We’re not.” The medical facility is offering voluntary retirement to 3,000 eligible employees, but those aren’t “massive layoffs,” and blaming the Affordable Care Act for staffing decisions that have happened elsewhere for years is a stretch.
Indeed, Sheil added that the Clinic supports the law conservative media is so eager to denigrate: “We believe reform is necessary because the current state is unsustainable. The ACA is a step toward that change and we believe more changes will come/evolve as there are still many uncertainties. Hospitals must be responsible and do what we can to prepare and support the law.”
And while this incident offers another reminder about the reliability of conservative media outlets, there’s another angle to keep in mind. Though it doesn’t get as much attention as it should, Medicaid expansion is incredibly important to state hospitals, which will struggle badly in Republican-led states that reject the policy. Indeed, in some states, hospitals may end up closing their doors altogether, at least in part due to the political decision.
And when state hospitals close, there are actual “massive layoffs,” which affect the employees and the economy. It’s one of the reasons so many hospitals lobby Republican officials in “red” states to be more responsible on Medicaid expansion, though their appeals are generally ignored.
So here’s the question for conservative media: when hospital staffs are laid off because Republicans blocked Medicaid expansion, and it’s “Obamacare” that could have saved those jobs, how many reports will we see chastising GOP officials for their callousness and economic recklessness?
Probably not too many. Call it a hunch.